Have you ever been stunned by the beauty of moths and butterflies? While many would think that moths are less popular and exciting, we can prove that they are absolutely gorgeous and essential pollinators.
Moths and butterflies form the order of insects called the Lepidoptera, from the Ancient Greek λεπίδος (lepídos) 'scale', and πτερά (pterá) 'wings'). The butterflies tend to be day flying and more charismatic catching the public attention, while the moths tend to be of secondary interest. This is unfortunate as Moths (members of Lepidoptera that are not butterflies) are very diverse with many more species both diurnal and nocturnal. As an interesting way to increase the communities awareness and knowledge of this group of insects, the team from 'Ferox australis' and Rossi from The Bee Hub at Brownhill Creek collaborated to hold a Moth Night Picnic on the 21st of January 2022.
Rosslyn talked about local cheese, honey and how they pair, during Moth Night Picnic at The Bee Hub.
The event took place at The Bee Hub at Brownhill Creek, where attendees were given picnic boxes featuring local cheese and honey from local South Australian producers, including Hawthorn and Yorke Peninsula. The sweetness of honey produced by native Aussie bees paired with the softness of locally made brie and the artisan flowered semi-hard buffalo cheese provided a great tasting experience to everyone's taste buds. And all this outdoor experience happened while we chatted about the importance of preserving pollinators and getting involved in citizen science initiatives to monitor native flora and fauna. Attendees also had an opportunity to buy native plants that host Australian pollinators and attract moths to their backyards.
Our Ferox team chatted about how everyone plays a role in citizen science activities. Indeed, we can transform hobbies and our leisure time to experience meaningful learning to begin to look around to the biodiversity around us. We can use our everyday devices and attentive eyes to share environmental observations and contribute to global databases, such as the iNaturalist platform.
A growing national project is Mozzie Monitors, where people can use traps in their backyards or share observations of mosquitoes on iNaturalist. With over 15,000 mosquitoes collected by the traps and more than 2,000 observed on the iNat, citizen scientists all over Australia have contributed to raising the knowledge of mosquito fauna in the country, including species of medical importance, pollinators, native, invasive and even recording a new species. Between 14th February and 29th March, citizen scientists can participate in the Mozzie Month initiative from anywhere in Australia. This is a 6-week trial where we assess the diversity, distribution and abundance of mosquito species in people's backyards. Data collected help researchers understand how mosquito populations differ in each area, how they change over time and their seasonality.
Larissa Braz Sousa talks about citizen science and Mozzie Monitors
The platform iNaturalist is unique as it provides a generalist platform to contribute observations of biodiversity to a database that can be used by researchers to answer questions. Using this particular platform for general observations contributes to our knowledge of biodiversity and the distribution of species across the globe. However, contributing to this platform also helps the user learn about the species they observe. Unlike some other platforms, iNaturalist is free funded by grants and voluntary contributions from users.
Many species rely on other species for their survival there are many examples of complex relationships between species in nature, Orchids exploiting insects for pollination is a classic example. Many species of moths and butterflies rely on plants to some degree with some totally reliant on specific plants. The public has become increasingly aware of the connection between species and the need to support biodiversity. Armed with this knowledge there has been a movement to understand and improve the urban ecology of cities.
In South Australia there have been at least 644 species of moth observed on iNaturalist, this exemplifies the massive diversity that is often dismissed as little brown moths. Once you have a closer look, moths are extremely diverse. For the evening we set up two UV lights at The Bee Hub at Brownhill Creek, and participants were encouraged to take photographs and submit observations to iNaturalist
Nicole Miller investigating moths attracted to our UV light
The participants were amazed to see how different the moths that arrived on our sheets were. we were even fortunate to be visited by several Giant Wood Moth, Endoxyla cinereus one of the larger more charismatic species found in South Australia during Summer. Find out what other species we discovered during the evening here.
Green Adelaide and local councils have been undertaking rewilding projects across Adelaide and other cities. These projects include planting vegetation corridors within the urban environment, the hope being that this will support biodiversity. The public can assist this movement by planting native species in their garden that will help support biodiversity in their suburb. How can you do this?
explore the biodiversity of your local government area on iNaturalist
turn the backlight on and attract local moths to contribute to iNaturalist
Why should we support
Once we know what species are present in our suburbs we can add plants that these species rely upon.